BBC Executives Battle to Keep Programs on Air During National Union of Journalists Walkout

Emma Crosby stepped in during the BBC walkout by NUJ union members to cover for Sophie Raworth's duties.

Emma Crosby stepped in during the BBC walkout by NUJ union members to cover for Sophie Raworth’s duties.

The BBC is still battling union members as it attempts to find ways to remedy a steep pension deficit. It is estimated that the shortfall totals £1.5 billion and the BBC executives want to put a cap on rises in pensionable pay at 1% after April. An agreement was reached with the union that represents camera crews and technicians, but it still is trying to come to terms with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

BBC bosses worked hard to counteract this past weekend’s walkout by NUJ and its 4,100 BBC members. They were hard pressed to keep programmes on the air but did succeed. High profile presenters that supported the walkout were Nicky Campbell, Fiona Bruce, Bill Turnball and Huw Edwards. Some however, like Evan Davies and Sarah Montague still presented.

Director of news Helen Boaden read a news item on Radio 4. Former GMTV presenter Emma Crosby replaced Sophie Raworth, Gavin Grey took over for Bill Turnball on BBC Breakfast, and on Five Live Ian Payne replaced the usual Nicky Campbell.

BBC used freelancers, managers, and even executives to step in where needed. Some pre-programmed shows were used when needed. BBC chiefs reported that only one in six of their employees had participated in the strike. Another 48-hour strike is planned to occur on November 15 and 16 and the NUJ has warned that others could occur.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson sent an email to staff saying: “No BBC services have been blacked out or gone off air. However, a few programmes have been lost and our ability to deliver the normal scale and quality of news and journalism to our audiences here and around the world has been impaired.”

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